R&B crooner John Michael is set to drop his latest project just in time for all the lovers looking for a proper soundtrack for their Valentine’s Day. Michael’s #NewJackThing Part One mixtape is not only intimate mood music to set the evening off right, but it also serves as an homage to the music of “New Jack Swing” performers like Keith Sweat, Guy, and Bell Biv DeVoe.
In what he calls a throwback to 1990’s R&B, the DMV artist also sprinkles in interludes from notable 90’s Black television shows and films to accent his appreciation for the era of Martin, The Nutty Professor, and Love Jones. DZI: The Voice tapped John Michael to share more about his inspirations and concepts for a few songs from NJTP1 in Vol 7 of Track Down.
“You Want Me”
Producers: Ric & Thadeus
I ran into this beat at complete random. I was on some of my friends beat sites looking for production for the mixtape and I noticed Ric & Thadeus’ page. I downloaded the beat and before I even loaded it into a session I had the hook in my head. I kept saying, “You Want Me, But I Want Your Body….” So I got to work on it, building the structure and mix.
The song is just a moment of selfishness for me. I’m normally a good dude, but I’m a man at the end of the day. There are times when the only thing I’m interested in for a certain woman is her body. But she sees me as this great guy with all this stuff going on, and she wants me to be her prize possession. The story can go both ways though. I know a lot of woman who only need a man for one thing lol.
Producers: Jackpot Music Group
Some of my early experiences with writing hooks came with Jackpot Music. They commissioned me to do hooks for Rick Ross, Fabolous, and Flo Rida submissions in 2009. It was a pleasure to get some new heat from them.
It starts out with a deep question…”What is love to you/Does it mean anything anymore for two/…with all the side-chicks and games that we play/we’re doomed.“
This song is about those moments or times when we meet someone that no matter what you have to figure out a way to keep the fire and keep it going. People cheat, people lie, no one is perfect.
When I sang “If we put our hearts inside can I keep you mine?” I was speaking about forgiveness on both sides and an open mind to move forward.
Producer: Yott Club
I was in Richmond, Virginia to do a live performance on the morning news show and also a meet & greet at BK Music Store. In between those two engagements, a friend I met at a previous show in Richmond invited me to a studio where I met Yott Club. They played me this beat and I was sold. I was ready to expose some things. I usually write in a more vague or ambiguous way, but on this song I got a little more specific. It’s hard for me to listen back to this song. It makes me uncomfortable a little. It’s really honest. I had to rap a little to get it off my chest better.
“It really ain’t a question how I feel about ya/Cuz if I had it my way you would be beside me/ But fate would have it you the type of trash that I should/Throw out the window but I got a bad habit” A lot of people don’t know but I was married and divorced at a young age. Actually my divorce just finalized the last summer. It wasn’t long ago that my heart was ripped out of my chest.
“I know you dealing with some ugly issues/Every time I see you pullin’ out the tissue/I swear I still don’t know what to believe/Cuz you the best liar that I ever seen/Why the fuck you have to save your best lies just for me…”
It was a weird situation to be so good to a wife and have her leave you for another man you thought was just a friend, only to discover he wasn’t the guy she thought he was. He ended up putting her through hell and asked me to help her the whole time. I had been with this woman since I was 16, so it was obviously hard and confusing to be both heartbroken and then see her in pain from another man.
Producers: Best Kept Secret
Best Kept Secret has done a lot of production for Wale. They were his hometown producers – helping make songs like “Bait”, “Pretty Girls”, and “LoveHate Thing.” We kind of go way back to my old hook making days. Their rep called me a while back when I was at work around 2008 to inquire about my ad for being a hook writer/singer. I was one of the first persons to really actively sell my services to underground artists and producers.
This song kind of deals with my underlying frustration with the way Black people have been treated through the years. Slavery, Jim Crow, segregation, “Separate but Equal”, etc.
“You see they backspaced and erased/Filled it in with some neck-bones collard greens/Pigs feet hot sauce on some chitterlings/Couldn’t read but they damn sure let us sing”
What I was pointing out is that they took our heritage, our pride, our language, our sense of humanity and left us with a new one that we created through soul food and other new Black cultural staples. On top of this they forbade us to learn to read and write. They wanted to keep us crippled. However, it was perfectly fine for us to sing and dance. Throughout Black history in America it has hardly ever been a problem for us to entertain. But the second we try and own, build, rise-up, or educate ourselves; that’s when the problem shows up. We have to realize that by winning Grammys, NBA Championships, Oscars, or Golden Globes “we haven’t done nothin” as Stevie Wonder would say. We need to transition from the kings of comedy to the kings of our own destiny as a people. Reach back and help those still trapped.
But it also incorporates my frustration with Black people for not cultivating ourselves better. We continually see our people justifying our negative stereotypes.
“We like the worst fucking squad in the league/Laughing stock ain’t nobody showin’ love to our team/Star players think they better than the rest of us/In the same boat but somehow they lookin’ down on us/I know why we always losing/Instead of paying bills we sit in line to buy some Jordans”
It sounds harsh, but sometimes I just equate my Black people to a struggling sports franchise. I’m a DMV native so really and truly are just like the Washington Redskins. Ownership focused on marketability. Star players who feel that they are different and more deserving than other teammates. A general public who doesn’t take the team serious at all. The similarities are endless to me. Especially the “star players” issue. I love Jay Z, Diddy, Beyonce, and Kanye… but when is the last time they gave a committed effort to openly marketing the betterment of our people and culture? I’m sure they give money and what not, but all that lyrical and vocal ability and yet they don’t use it to bridge that gap.
To download John Michael’s #NewJackThing Part One click it
For more info about John Michael click it
To connect with John follow him on Twitter @4JohnMichael
Check out John Michael’s video for “Arrive”: